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Human handling, flock size and responses to an E. coli challenge in young chickens

By N. W. Collins, P. B. Siegel

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The effects of human handling and flock size on physiological, behavioural and production traits of female chickens were examined in two flocks of 10 and 20 chicks handled gently and spoken to for 1 minute, 3 days a week, and in two similar groups which were not handled. Pullets maintained in smaller flocks were heavier at 28 days of age than those kept in larger flocks, with feed efficiency being superior for the latter by 35 days of age. Socialized (handled) pullets were heavier at 35 days of age than ignored pullets, with no difference in feed efficiency. The general pattern of weight change to the E. coli challenge, and scores of heart and air-sac lesions were similar for all groups. Behavioural differences between groups were marked; weighted behaviour totals and individual encounter scores on a per bird basis were greater for larger flocks and ignored birds than for smaller flocks and socialized birds, indicating more agonistic behaviour in ignored pullets and those maintained in larger flocks. It is concluded that the human-animal relationship is an important part of animal well-being.

Date 1987
Publication Title Applied Animal Behaviour Science
Volume 19
Issue 1/2
Pages 183-188
ISBN/ISSN 0168-1591
Language English
Author Address Pultry Sci. Dep., Polytech. Inst. State Univ., Blackburg, VA 24061, USA.
Cite this work

Researchers should cite this work as follows:

  1. Agonistic behavior
  2. Animal behavior
  3. Animal husbandry
  4. Bacteria
  5. Birds
  6. Chickens
  7. Diseases
  8. Fowls
  9. Handling
  10. Parasites
  11. peer-reviewed
  12. Poultry
  13. poultry diseases
  14. Resistance and Immunity
  15. Stress
  1. peer-reviewed